How Alcohol Consumption Affects Liver Health

Human liver sign with a shield. Health protection concept. illustration

The liver is a vital organ in the body, and its function is vital to our overall health. It helps digest food and converts it to energy so the body has what it needs to keep running. Many of the body's systems run on the liver, so any medication, vitamins, and herbal remedies need to be processed by the liver. Taking too much of a certain medication or combining it with another can cause damage to the liver.

Reducing alcohol intake

The primary objective of the study was to determine the impact of graded alcohol intake on markers of liver health. Several methods were used to determine alcohol intake, including a single 24-hour recall and two 24-h recalls collected as part of the NHANES. The usual alcohol intake was calculated using the National Cancer Institute's “normal intake” procedure. The alcohol consumption questionnaire was also included. Despite the high alcohol consumption levels observed among participants, it did not significantly affect markers of liver health.

Reducing alcohol intake for liver health has numerous benefits. First, it can reduce the risk of liver disease. Second, it can improve overall health. It also helps to reduce the consumption of over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen. Lastly, avoiding unnecessary toxins can benefit liver health. Lastly, you should make sure to avoid chemicals and use gloves when handling them. Alcoholism is a major risk factor for liver disease, and abstinence from alcohol can have life-threatening consequences.

In addition to causing liver damage, alcohol also dehydrates the body. This dehydration is harmful to the liver because it has to search for water elsewhere to filter toxins. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also lead to a hangover. As a result, the liver's cells can die and regenerate only a few days after the last drink. If the effects are severe, it can take several months before the liver starts healing, and the damage may not be completely reversed.

Reducing sugar intake

Recent research has linked moderate sugar consumption to fatty liver. Over time, fat accumulation in the liver can lead to health complications such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. While both fructose and sucrose boost fat synthesis, sucrose increased fat synthesis in the liver more than its fructose counterpart. Researchers found that these changes in metabolism continued even if a person stopped eating more sugar.

While sugar has negative effects on general health, it's especially harmful to the liver. Excess fructose turns into fat globules and accumulates in liver cells. This condition, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is the leading chronic liver disease in the U.S., and affects nearly a third of all U.S. adults. While patients don't usually experience any symptoms, some suffer from fatigue and pain in their upper right abdomen. Despite the risk for liver disease, reducing sugar intake could prevent or reduce the development of this condition.

A nine-day diet that cuts out sugar has reversibly reversed the buildup of liver fat in children. Liver fat is linked to Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Scientists from Touro University and UC San Francisco examined the effects of a diet low in fructose, a sugar found in sodas and a wide range of snack foods. They found that children who followed the diet had lower liver fat on average, reducing it by 20 percent. The diet could potentially slow the rate of the growth of chronic metabolic diseases worldwide.

Avoiding trans fats

A recent podcast by the Harvard School of Public Health explores the history of trans fats and the decades-long effort to eliminate them from the U.S. food supply. It features Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School, and Michael Jacobson, senior scientist at the School and former executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Listen to the podcast to learn more about the benefits of avoiding trans fats.

Regardless of the cause, the best way to protect your liver from chronic inflammation is to avoid trans fats in your diet. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has recently reduced the amount of trans fat in processed foods to 2% by 2022. These foods include fried and processed foods, fast foods, and commercially prepared baked goods. Look for “partially hydrogenated” oils near the bottom of the ingredient list.

The American Heart Association recommends that you limit the number of trans fats in your diet to less than one percent of your total energy intake. This translates to less than two grams of trans fats a day on a 2,000-calorie diet. Trans fats lower HDL cholesterol and raise LDL cholesterol. A diet high in trans fat increases the risk of developing heart disease by 21%. However, replacing trans fats with unsaturated fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart disease and ameliorate their effects on blood lipid levels.

Avoiding red meats

A diet that is low in fat is the most beneficial way to support your liver. This is because red meat contains high amounts of saturated fat, which damages the liver. This fat also causes inflammation in the liver and can contribute to liver cirrhosis. Moreover, saturated fats increase bad cholesterol and reduce the good cholesterol. These factors raise your risk for heart disease and stroke. To prevent liver damage, a low-fat, plant-based diet is a better choice.

Moreover, studies have shown that limiting the consumption of red meat can prevent cancer. A study conducted on mice revealed that reducing 20% of animal protein reduced the growth of cancer cells. In fact, cultures that eat less meat have lower cancer incidence. Nonetheless, it is still unethical to conduct studies on human beings. Nevertheless, dietary guidelines advise limiting red meat intake to a maximum of two servings per week. Instead, people should focus on plant proteins and fish.

Earlier studies have found an association between red meat consumption and liver cancer. These studies examined the correlation between meat intake and the incidence of all types of cancer. They found a statistically significant relationship. Further, it was found that reducing the amount of meat a person eats can significantly reduce the risk of developing NAFLD. If you do not follow these recommendations, you may develop NAFLD. You may wish to consult your doctor before eliminating red meat from your diet.

Taking dietary supplements

While it may seem like a no-brainer to take dietary supplements for liver health, there are many risks associated with these products. For starters, these medications may increase the risk of some side effects. In addition, some patients may experience discomfort from these medications, particularly if they take larger doses than recommended or take them along with other medicines for other conditions. The best way to avoid these potential side effects is to take your medication as directed and under the supervision of a healthcare expert.

Some liver health supplements are also made to help you lose weight, build a stronger immune system, and boost your mood. Some of the most popular products promise to regenerate your liver. These products are packed with natural ingredients that can help your body get rid of toxins and boost its function. Other supplements may be made from different plant sources. Some, like Morning Complete, have prenatal and green superfoods. ActivatedYou describes Morning Complete as a “powerful daily wellness drink” that promotes liver health and good blood sugar levels. Alternatively, Advanced Bionutritionals' Advanced Liver Support contains phosphatidylcholine, milk thistle, selenium, and glycyrrhizin.

While there are other substances, such as zinc, that can help the liver, there is no scientific evidence to support their use in treating liver disease. There is a lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of these supplements, so doctors generally do not recommend them. However, you should try these supplements if you suspect you have liver problems. So, what are the risks? These supplements are only safe to take with caution, as they are not clinically proven.

Treatments for liver disease

In order to help prevent liver damage, treatment options include lowering blood pressure and reducing stomach acid, as well as medicines to reduce the effects of the disease. Examples of these medications include beta-blockers such as ibuprofen and Advil. Other drugs include Sandostatin, which prevents the growth of blood vessels in the stomach and esophagus. Finally, diuretics, such as furosemide (Lasix), can reduce fluid in the abdomen.

Depending on the stage of the disease, your doctor may suggest a combination of treatments to manage the symptoms. Lifestyle changes can help reduce the severity of symptoms. You may also want to quit alcohol, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Your physician will monitor your progress by monitoring your blood and liver function. Often, medications will be given or a combination of lifestyle changes and lifestyle adjustments. If these measures are unsuccessful, your physician may recommend liver transplant surgery.

Symptoms of liver disease can vary, ranging from pain to extreme fatigue. Other symptoms may include weight loss, a general feeling of ill health, and nausea. Fat deposits in the liver may cause inflammation, and your urine may be dark or tarry. You may also experience a fever, itchy skin, or an enlarged liver. Some individuals may even experience jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), which is a sign of liver disease.


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Written by Wayne Parker

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